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E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions (2022)

Chapter:Chapter 5 E-Scooter Program Safety Management Practices

« Previous: Chapter 4 E-Scooter Injuries and Crash Context
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 E-Scooter Program Safety Management Practices." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26756.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 E-Scooter Program Safety Management Practices." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26756.
Page 15
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 E-Scooter Program Safety Management Practices." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26756.
Page 16
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 E-Scooter Program Safety Management Practices." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26756.

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13 infrastructure through various planning initiatives, design approaches, and operations and maintenance efforts. When e-scooter pilot pro- grams are designed, there are many different ways that communities are establishing evaluation and data needs, collecting and analyzing data, sharing and integrating information sources, and determin- ing transportation impacts and challenges. The following sections focus on different areas of safety management practices related to e-scooter programs or related micromobility programs as covered in the existing published literature. In particular, the discussion covers the following areas: • Safety and equity considerations made during the permitting process, and the impacts or gaps in planning identified in the review of pilot program literature; • The ways in which e-scooter issues have been integrated or addressed through planning, design, and roadway maintenance practices; • Documented practices in the literature review related to crash recording and monitoring, as well as safety evaluation; and • Additional practices related to incident management, code com- pliance, and other enforcement-based measures agencies have put in place. While summarizing individual community policies is beyond the scope of this project, readers interested in a collection of micro- mobility policies can visit the Shared Use Mobility Center (https:// Infrastructure Planning and Delivery When e-scooter operators first launched their fleets in late 2017, many did so without warning or approval from the jurisdictions in which their devices would operate. This left many cities in the posi- tion of creating terms and conditions in real time; for most of them, the initial response involved either a permit system or a pilot dem- onstration (NACTO 2019a). E-scooters are often managed by different departments in different cities. In some cases, a commerce depart- ment plays a role (since the program is permitting the operation of a business), and often e-scooter programs involve parking and asset management staff, planning departments, and engineering and pub- lic works staff, as well as public communications departments. Many cities have transitioned from an evaluative pilot program to a perma- nent micromobility permit program. Roadway Design and Operations With similar operating speeds and characteristics, e-scooter riders and bicyclists have similar infrastructure needs. Findings from Portland’s pilot program showed that e-scooter riders preferred low-speed streets and streets with bike lanes, meaning e-scooter riders tended to use the city’s extensive bike network. While side- walk riding is a safety concern for many cities, Portland riders ranked sidewalks as their least-preferred road type, perhaps because of the availability of separated bike facilities throughout the city (Portland Bureau of Transportation 2019). Portland partially attributed the safety of its e-scooter pilot programs to the city’s bike infrastructure— at the end of the 2019 pilot, the city had recorded more than Only two out of 52 e-scooter riders were intoxicated according to police-reported crash data in Nashville (Shah et al. 2021). How Are Injury Trends Changing over Time? Calculating injury rates over time is an important area of continued research. Some evidence of a novelty effect has been documented in several studies that found that a high proportion of injuries occurred in first-time e-scooter riders. It is plausible, then, that when shared rental e-scooters are first introduced to a jurisdiction, crash and injury rates may be higher because the population is likely inexperienced with e-scooter operation and safety best practices, and drivers are less aware of them. As more years of data are collected, research can examine and contextualize injury rates on the basis of when shared e-scooters were introduced to particular areas. When study periods last for fewer than 12 months, it is important to consider the seasonality of micromobility use, which is typically highest in the spring, summer, and fall and lowest in the winter. Seasons of higher use may correspond to more reported injuries in those months. In Nashville, a study of e-scooter crashes involving motor vehicles found that the number of crashes was much higher in the summer months of the second year of the shared e-scooter program (Shah et al. 2021). This could be attributed to the increasing popularity of e-scooters and higher usage during summer. If data are captured completely, with adequate numerators (injuries) and denominators (trips and miles traveled) the calculated injury rate will accurately reflect the true injury rate, but there are additional factors that might contribute to seasonal fluctuations (e.g., hours of daylight, weather, prevalence of drug and alcohol impairment, and traffic volume). Future research could examine whether seasonal differences exist and what they may be. CHAPTER 5 E-SCOOTER PROGRAM SAFETY MANAGEMENT PRACTICES The first shared e-scooters were deployed in the United States in late 2017 in Santa Monica and later expanded to other cities (Populus 2018). Over time, companies began operating in 43 markets without permits or consent. Ultimately, this led to fines or cease-and-desist orders against operators, largely due to the proliferation of sidewalk riding and obstruction of pedestrian throughways (Portland Bureau of Transportation 2019; SFMTA 2019). The limited legal definition of e-scooters can lead to tension between operators who are advocating for the clear legalization of e-scooters and cities that desire to maintain authority in micromobility regulation (NACTO 2019b). Pilot programs are a mechanism by which both parties can take steps toward achieving their goals. This often involves formal requests for proposals (RFPs) and competitive application processes. Cities have used RFPs to establish standards and regulatory practices, such as capping the number of simulta- neous operators, limiting fleet sizes, varying fleet size on the basis of operator performance, and rewarding operators that service eco- nomically disadvantaged or inaccessible areas (NACTO 2020). This section describes some of the safety and equity considerations made during the permitting process, and the impacts on or gaps in plan- ning identified in the review of pilot program literature. As e-scooter pilot programs launch, they are often nested within broader transportation agency programs aimed at delivering safe

14 1.7 million trips taken and no fatalities (Portland Bureau of Transpor- tation and Alta Planning & Design 2020). Road User Rules, E-Scooter Rider Restrictions, and Other Regulations Parking Requirements E-scooter parking has emerged as a fundamental concern. Although shared e-scooters are part of a dockless system in which vehicles can be parked anywhere, providing designated parking infrastruc- ture has helped cities control the risks from vehicles parked in ways that impede other road users, mainly pedestrians. Improper e-scooter parking obstructs the paths of pedestrians and poses a tripping hazard. Many cities heard feedback from residents about e-scooters obstructing the sidewalks, blocking driveways, and obstructing access to other walkway amenities. National and local advocacy groups have raised concerns regarding sidewalk acces- sibility for people who are blind or have low vision, have an intel- lectual or developmental disability, or use a wheelchair or mobility device. Many are concerned about adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards in the transportation system. Many states have laws prohibiting obstruction of sidewalks, and some state laws do address micromobility and parking specifically, though most states’ laws focus on prohibiting objects that impede the pedestrian right-of-way. Additionally, research has documented a lack of clarity in how these laws are to be enforced (Pimentel and Lowry 2020). Prioritizing parking infrastructure in the places it will be most needed and used is an important consideration for cities, which have constrained budgets. Typically, most programs require that e-scooters be parked outside of the pedestrian zone (e.g., sidewalk), in the furniture zone. In advance of issuing permits for its pilot program in 2019, the Los Angeles DOT created drop zones by using movable decals placed on the sidewalk or pavement to designate preferred parking areas (Los Angeles DOT 2019). After the pilot, the Los Angeles DOT concluded that the drop zones were helpful but did not always align with the areas of highest scooter use. In the future, Los Angeles DOT plans to create an inventory of drop zone locations and match them with areas of highest use (Los Angeles DOT 2020). Few studies focused on where e-scooters are parked, but those that did revealed that improper parking of e-scooters was relatively rare. One analysis conducted across several cities found that micro- mobility devices were parked improperly less than 2% of the time as compared with motor vehicles, which were found to have been parked in a manner that impeded other travelers almost 25% of the time. More than 35% of micromobility vehicles were parked at bike racks or corrals. In San Francisco, where e-scooters are required to use a locking or tethering mechanism, this proportion was almost 98%, though the results did not reveal a distinct difference in the number of violations in a city that requires the devices to be locked to a rack or other street furniture compared with the number of violations in a city that does not have that requirement. The same authors also noted that bicycles and e-scooters accounted for close to one-quarter of all parked vehicles, yet space to accommodate the parking of these vehicles was limited in comparison with motor vehi- cles (Brown et al. 2020). Research in San José, California, echoed the above findings and showed that 97% of the e-scooters were parked correctly and that less than 2% were parked in a manner that would obstruct pedestrians (Fang et al. 2018). Sidewalk Riding Restrictions Similar to parking issues, sidewalk riding has emerged as a priority concern in many communities where e-scooters have been deployed. Whether users can ride e-scooters on sidewalks differs between cities, and even within some cities, where riding on the sidewalk is allowed in some locations and not in others. Some cities allow sidewalk riding anywhere “when done in a prudent manner” (City of Austin n.d.), some allow it when there is no separated or protected bike lane and when motor vehicle travel speeds are high (City of Denver 2021), and many disallow it altogether. Arlington County, VA, prohibited sidewalk riding altogether early in its pilot phase but later moved to allow it in areas where fewer pedestrians are present and where riding in the street could be more dangerous (Mobility Lab and Arlington, VA 2019). In Denver, e-scooters are only allowed on roadways where motor vehicle travel speed is less than 30 mph (48 km/h) (Denver Public Works 2019). A program evaluation of the first pilot in Portland found that sidewalk riding increased when a bike lane was not available or where motor vehicle speeds were higher. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (2019) also noted that sidewalk riding served as an indication that e-scooter riders did not feel safe riding with motor vehicles in the roadway. Some challenges with sidewalk prohibitions are related to the uneven distribution of infrastructure in neighborhoods that support safe on-street scooter riding coupled with uneven enforcement, particularly for people of color. This has been documented for bicycle riders and is an area of future research for scooter rider enforcement. Various mechanisms have been implemented to attempt to reduce illegal sidewalk riding. Many e-scooter operators are develop- ing GPS technology that detects and alerts riders on a scooter’s dig- ital display if sidewalk riding is occurring (Santacreu et al. 2020; Lime 2018). However, issues with GPS accuracy and urban canyons may pose problems to wide employment of such technology. Overall, sidewalk riding restrictions have proven difficult to enforce (Santacreu et al. 2020). Other technologies with the potential to identify side- walk riding (e.g., sensor- or camera-based systems) are emerging and being deployed. Helmet Use Approaches State-level helmet laws vary widely across the country. Most states have a helmet requirement for traditional bicycle riders under a cer- tain age; some have helmet requirements based on age specifically for e-bike riders; and a handful require helmets for e-scooter riders under a specified age. Many states have no laws for general helmet use (Pimentel and Lowry 2020). In Santa Monica, the most common citation issued to riders between 2017 and 2019 was for riding with- out a helmet. However, California law requiring a helmet changed during this period (beginning January 1, 2019) so that only riders under the age of 18 were required to wear helmets (City of Santa Monica 2019). Some local agencies have helmet requirements, espe- cially for younger riders. In Charlotte, North Carolina, no one under the age of 16 is allowed to operate an e-scooter without a helmet, and the parent can also receive a penalty for allowing a child to do so (City Council of Charlotte 2019). While there remains a lack of evidence regarding the impact of helmet laws on actual helmet use, a growing body of evidence indicates that helmet laws can be subject to biased enforcement and have led to instances of police-initiated violence (Mitchell and Ridgeway 2018). For example, an independent review of bicycle

15 In addition to their unknown safety effects, these policies carry important equity implications, particularly for shift workers, people with low incomes, and racial minorities that may depend on e-scooters when other modes of transportation are not in operation or are not as reliable. Examination of these issues is a topic for further research. Speed Limit Regulations E-scooter speed limits, while regulated by a broad set of policies, are often also controlled by onboard technology such as geofencing. Many cities have arrived at a policy of limiting e-scooters to 15 mph (24 km/h) for travel in most settings. Arlington County set e-scooter speed limits at 10 mph (16 km/h) originally but adjusted to 15 mph (24 km/h) after community feedback indicated that riders were not comfortable traveling 10 mph (16 km/h) on streets with faster motor vehicle traffic (Mobility Lab and Arlington, VA 2019). Most commu- nities have certain areas where speed limits are limited even further to accommodate concerns around conflicts with pedestrians. For example, a Denver ordinance requires that e-scooters ride no more than 6 mph (10  km/h) on sidewalks (Denver Public Works 2019). Portland used geofence technology to slow scooters down in certain districts such as the North and South Park blocks, where e-scooters are slowed to walking pace, or 3 mph (5 km/h) (Portland Administrative Rule 2020). In contrast, few cities aim to control the speed limit of bicycles or e-bikes, which may be sharing the same operating space as e-scooters. Traditional bicycles fall under the purview of “vehicles” and are reg- ulated by posted speed limit signs, depending on the state’s defi- nition of bicycles. E-bikes operating within bikeshare programs are most often regulated as Class 1, 2, or 3 e-bikes that are capped at 20 or 28 mph (32 or 45 km/h) maximum speeds (Sandt 2019). E-bikes that are self-purchased may also be capped at these speeds but could also be retrofit to operate at faster speeds. As mentioned earlier, geofencing may also be adopted to limit e-scooter speeds in given areas and improve the comfort and safety of other road users, namely pedestrians. For example, in Chicago, geofencing limits e-scooter usage to the pilot service area by decel- erating scooters to a stop within a quarter mile of exiting the service area boundary (City of Chicago 2020a). Speed-governing tech- niques can seek to utilize deceleration rates that are safe for riders (Portland Bureau of Transportation and Alta Planning & Design 2020; Santacreu et al. 2020). Fleet Safety Management Most communities require shared mobility operators to have the ability to disable e-scooters remotely immediately after receiving a report on a maintenance issue, and some cities require the opera- tor to remove all vehicles and inspect them if the issue might affect multiple vehicles (Baltimore City Department of Transportation 2019a). In Santa Monica, the field team must be available to respond to nonemergency reports between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and for emergency responses must remove faulty devices or those reported to be blocking the right-of-way within 2 hours (City of Santa Monica 2019). For larger (e.g., citywide) emergencies, NACTO recommends cities coordinate with emergency departments or other relevant agencies to develop an emergency management plan for events such as severe weather (NACTO 2019a). However, these measures were generally not described in e-scooter pilot reports or other studies reviewed. infraction data in Seattle, WA, (which has an all-ages helmet law) from 2003 to 2020 found that police issued helmet citations to Black cyclists at 3.8 times the rate they issued them to White cyclists, even though Black cyclists made up less than 5% of Seattle’s cycling population (Campbell 2021). There is strong indication that other approaches to encourage helmet wearing may be more effective than mandates. Helmet use was encouraged by most communities in the pilot reports reviewed, largely by means of safety messaging. Many agencies require operators to give away helmets as a component of public education and engagement. Washington, DC, requires operators to provide users with a free helmet on request (within 20 days) (Government of the District of Columbia 2019). Operator Permitting and Regulation Cities vary in the requirements they impose on shared e-scooter companies participating in pilot programs. Requirements may include service area and time restrictions, technology-based approaches to manage speed, incident-reporting mandates, and other approaches (Portland Bureau of Transportation and Alta Planning & Design 2020; Portland Bureau of Transportation 2019; SFMTA 2019; City of Chicago 2020a). Notably, these requirements do not necessarily apply to riders of privately owned e-scooters. The following sections describe some of the common practices described in the pilot reports examined in the literature review. Service Area Definitions and Regulations Geofencing is an often-implemented means of regulating where and how e-scooters travel. Portland defines geofence technology as “a virtual geographic boundary, defined by GPS or RFID (radio- frequency identification) technology, that enables software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area” (Portland Administrative Rule 2020). Baltimore’s Dockless Vehicle program requires that vehicles be “equipped with a speed gov- ernor that ensures the vehicle will not travel in excess of 15 mph (24 km/h) on level ground and which can be programmed to ‘geo- fence’ a reduced speed at locations identified by DOT” (Baltimore City Department of Transportation 2019b). In general, communities have set boundaries for designated pilot or study areas. Within those areas, they also have designated specific zones where either riding is prohibited or e-scooters must travel at a slower speed or zones that are prioritized due to being historically underserved in terms of access to mobility options. Service Time Restrictions and Regulations Some cities have addressed concerns around nighttime riding— which was seen in the injury evidence to be more closely associated with severe and fatal injuries—by imposing limits on the hours of operation for shared mobility service providers. Time limits may vary between cities, and no evaluation on the effectiveness of these mea- sures in relation to crash and injury outcomes was identified. Many cities require entire fleets be removed from city streets during severe weather events or other emergencies (Baltimore City Department of Transportation 2019a; Portland Interim Rules and Regulations Update 2020; City of Chicago 2020b). Some cities remove scooters from operation during large events such as music festivals or large sport- ing events (City of Chicago 2020a; Strasmore 2020).

16 Inspired by the General Bikeshare Feed Specification, the Los Angeles DOT created the open source Mobility Data Specifica- tion (MDS) as a standardized way for public agencies and mobil- ity operators (including dockless bicycle, e-scooter, moped, and carshare companies) to share data and policy information (Open Mobility Foundation 2020). More than 90 cities and public agencies and more than 20 major mobility service operators (including Los Angeles, Arlington, Austin, Portland, Denver, San Francisco, and Santa Monica) now use MDS to inform decisions about policy, plan- ning, and infrastructure (Open Mobility Foundation 2020). Though a growing number of organizations rely on the MDS, there remains a lack of data standards related to e-scooter safety. For example, there are no clear definitions for basic indicators of a potential safety risk, such as a fall, incident, or injury. Incident and Injury Reporting Requirements Agencies frequently require operators to report any crash or fatal- ity, any contact with first responders, or any other safety issue, such as speed violations, to the city or agency directly (e.g., Arlington County), and some agencies require any safety issues such as a crash to be reported to the city within 24 hours (Baltimore City Depart- ment of Transportation 2019b). In some cases, this is a data point included in periodic reports (City of Santa Monica 2020). Baltimore City’s DOT report points out, however, that crashes reported in this manner are likely underreported (Baltimore City Department of Transportation 2019a). Some cities require operators to submit a safety report based on prior safety performance in other locations in order to obtain a per- mit to provide e-scooter service in their community (Portland Admin- istrative Rule 2020). The city code in Austin requires an e-scooter rider to offer help if they cause injury and share their contact infor- mation if they cause injury or property damage. In terms of crash reporting by law enforcement, a flier issued by the Office of Mobility in Atlanta directed officers to report e-scooter crashes as pedestrian crashes. The form only offers options for crashes involving a driver, bicycle, or pedestrian (Office of Mobility Plan- ning 2019). None of the pilot reports or studies reviewed described e-scooter crash-reporting practices. Injury Data Coding and Quality Control Methods Data about e-scooter injuries are crucial to understanding the safety impacts and implications of this emerging mode. Given the lack of safety data standards, case definitions, and mandatory report- ing practices in most e-scooter pilot programs, most relevant e-scooter injury data are collected by hospitals or care providers. In some places, communities are seeking to draw from multiple data sources. For example, for its mid-pilot-program evaluation, SFMTA compared crash and injury data from three sources: hospi- tal injury reports, police collision reports, and e-scooter operator reports (SFMTA 2019). There were no ICD-10-CM codes specifically for e-scooter inju- ries until the publication of the ICD-10-CM 2021 update in October 2020. As a result, these injuries have been coded differently by dif- ferent hospitals or even within the same hospital. To date, identifying e-scooter injuries has been heavily reliant on narrative text fields in patient charts and on NEISS product codes, but both methods can overlook and misclassify cases. Approaches to Equitable Access to E-scooter Programs The literature on equitable policies around new mobility suggests that additional strategies could be adopted to make transportation more accessible to people who are marginalized by current systems. Systems that rely on Wi-Fi and smartphone access, for example, could expand access to free and public Wi-Fi and offer additional safeguards (e.g., insurance or other remedies) for those with concerns about sharing personal and financial information with a private oper- ator (e.g., identity theft or other fraudulent activity) (Golub et  al. 2019). Johnston et al. (2020) note that lack of uptake of e-scooters in some “equity priority” areas in cities such as Chicago may also be attributed to the lack of safe infrastructure in those neighborhoods. Where E-Scooters Operate The Portland Bureau of Transportation required that a specific per- centage of e-scooter fleets in Portland be deployed in traditionally underserved eastern neighborhoods and provide operators with defined boundaries for this deployment (Portland Bureau of Trans- portation 2019; Portland Bureau of Transportation and Alta Planning & Design 2020). In Austin, operators must submit a plan for marketing and promotion in underserved areas to the government agency (Austin Transportation Department 2019). Several cities designate equity priority areas and provide geographic information system boundaries to operators and also specifically state that operators must provide education, outreach and engagement in equity priority areas (City of Chicago 2020b; Denver Public Works 2019; Johnston et  al. 2020). While some cities are prioritizing investment of infra- structure (e.g., bike racks and e-scooter parking) in equity priority areas, stakeholder input indicates a large gap (and interest) in robust efforts to plan for equitable infrastructure improvements in tandem with planning for e-scooter service areas. Language Equity Most cities oblige operators to provide multilingual customer service. In Baltimore, 24-hour help lines must be available in Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Korean (Baltimore City Department of Transportation 2019b). In Chicago, language requirements include Spanish, Polish, Korean, Arabic, Hindi, and Mandarin (City of Chicago 2020b). Portland also requires that printed materials be offered in multiple languages (Portland Interim Rules and Regulations Update 2020). Accommodations for Disabilities In January 2020, Oakland, California, became one of the first com- munities to make e-scooters for riders with disabilities available. The city partnered with an operator to offer e-scooters that are adapted for use by those who are not comfortable standing for long periods of time. The adaptive e-scooters can be reserved in advanced and delivered to the home of the rider. Crash Recording and Injury Surveillance Safety and Other Data Standards Data standards for shared micromobility are still emerging and changing. The model policy in NACTO’s 2018 report, Guidelines for the Regulation and Management of Shared Active Transportation, described three distinct aspects of data standards: provision and access, quality and accuracy, and privacy (NACTO 2018).

Next: Chapter 6 Stakeholder Practices, Gaps, and Safety Issues Identified »
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Many communities with electric‐scooter (e‐scooter) programs have observed social, health, and environmental benefits; enhanced multimodal connections; and positive economic impacts (such as those derived by delivery services and couriers using e‐scooters and the resultant jobs created). However, these effects are often accompanied by real and perceived safety challenges.

The TRB Behavioral Transportation Safety Cooperative Research Program's BTSCRP Research Results Digest 1: E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions is an initial deliverable to a larger ongoing project, in the form of a literature review, that identifies emerging behavioral safety issues arising from the expanding use of e-scooters and summarizes how cities are working to prevent and mitigate injuries.

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